Public Transport in Istanbul
Details and contact information on the regional and city bus transport system...
Istanbul is a very large city with more than 15 million inhabitants. Driving can be difficult in rush hours, which are generally between 18:00 and 22:00 on weekdays.
Istanbul's public transport system includes: buses, metrobus, railways (LRT light rapid system, street railway, metro, heritage tram, funicular, commuter train and cable car), sea buses, fast ferries and conventional vehicle/passenger ferries. A detailed transportation map of Istanbul can be found on the Istanbul City Guide web page of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. In addition, the Istanbul Transportation website provides the latest up-to-date information on the transport system.
The Istanbulkart is a contactless smart card sold at nearly every commercial kiosk in tourist areas. It can be used on the metro, tram or ferryboat. The passenger pays a deposit of TL 10 for the card itself, and then any amount of fare credit can be loaded onto it. One card can be used for multiple passengers.
No tickets are sold for public transport. It is necessary to buy a token or a card. Single-fare tokens can be obtained at Jetonmatik machines or from snack/newspaper kiosks in or near metro stations, bus stops and ferry terminals. Jetonmatik machines are located mostly at main bus stops and metro and ferry stations.
Akbil Transit Pass
Note: The Akbil travel pass is currently being replaced by the new Istanbulkart. This is a small steel button, with a computer chip inside, mounted on a plastic holder. This prepaid pass entitles passengers to reduced fares between transit lines. A passenger can transfer to another form of transport within 120 minutes at a reduced charge. Two or more people can use the same Akbil. However, the reduced fares for transfers do not apply if it the pass is used by more than one passenger.
Akbil is accepted on Istanbul's buses (both municipal and private), trams, tünel, metro, funicular, suburban trains, "sea bus" fast catamaran ferries, and traditional ferries.
An Akbil costs about TL 10, which can be refunded if necessary by returning it to a kiosk. It can be recharged with credit at the machines located near major transit stops and ferry terminals. Instructions are in Turkish, English and German.
A dolmus is a small minibus (light blue) or sometimes a regular taxi (yellow). Dolmus run frequently until 01:00, including at weekends. Each Dolmus follows a different specific fixed route, which is indicated by a destination board on the bottom right corner of the front window. Passengers pay by cash when they board. Fares range from TL 1–7 according to the distance. Only yellow dolmus travel between the European and Asian sides. Dolmus are much cheaper than regular taxis.
The main dolmus stations are located at Harem and Kadiköy on the Anatolian side, and Besiktas and Taksim on the European side. There are no timetables and seating is on a first come first served basis; the dolmus departs when it is full. Dolmus may be very crowded during rush hours.
City buses (Otobüs)
Buses are the most popular means of public transport in Istanbul because they are cheap and frequent. Bus services are run by IETT (Istanbul Elektrik Tramvay ve Tünel Isletmeleri).
Buses run from 06:00 to 23:00 on routes all over the city. Bus stops are easily recognisable and are located at frequent intervals.
Many buses stop at Eminönü Square (near Galata Bridge), Taksim Square, Aksaray and Beyazit. In addition there are bus stops at Besiktas and in Kadikoy and Uskudar.
Each route has its own number, for example 35, 50M. The number is shown above the front window of the bus, with stops (in order) and final destination listed on the side window. Bus numbers can also be found at the IETT's information kiosks. Timetables and other route information are available at bus stations, and passengers can also ask the driver. LCD screens show the names of the stops as they are approached, and a voice announcement is made. Most buses stop at all stops.
There are three types of buses:
- Public buses (Halkotobüsü): These are red or green. Payment must be made on boarding, with Akbil or Istanbulkart. Tickets and coins are not welcome. The fare is higher if a passenger crosses one of the Bosphorus bridges.
- Privately owned buses (Özel otobüs): These are orange. They operate similarly to public buses.
The bus rapid transit (BRT) system that operates in Istanbul is the Metrobus. There is one line between Istanbul University's Avcilar Campus (on the European side) and Sogutlucesme Train Station (on the Anatolian side). Buses run between 06:00 and midnight. Some routes may operate only until 21:00. There are timetables at the stations, and staff are available to provide more information.
- For a map and for the travel planning system: Click here
Metrobuses run every few minutes in both directions. The stations are:
- Anatolian side: Sogutlucesme, Fikirtepe, Uzuncayir, Acibadem, Altunizade and Burhaniye Mahallesi, Bogazici Koprusu (the Bosphorus Bridge)
- European side: Zincirlikuyu, Mecidiyekoy, Caglayan, SSK Hastanesi, Perpa, Okmeydani, Halicioglu, Ayvansaray, Maltepe, Topkap?, Edirnekapi, Vatan Caddesi, Maltepe, Topkapi, Cevizlibag, Merter, Zeytinburnu, Incirli, Bagcelievler, Sirinevler, Kuleli-Yanibosna, Sefakoy, Besyol, Cennet, Kucukcemece, IETT Camp (Resitpasa), Sukrubey, Avc?lar Campus of Istanbul University
To use the metrobus, it is necessary to have an Akbil or Istanbulkart. On-board fare collection systems are installed at the front of the buses. There are also turnstiles which accept Akbil and Istanbulkart. If needed, credit can be added at kiosks in almost all metrobus stations.
The Istiklal Street between Taksim and Tünel is closed to vehicle traffic; so the only means of transport is heritage trams. It is necessary to obtain a tram ticket before boarding, or use a travel pass after boarding.
Another tramway line runs between Kabata? and Zeytinburnu. This line (15 Km) provides fast and comfortable travel. This line is extended to Ba?c?lar with its Zeytinburnu-Ba?c?lar, and connects to the light rail (Hafif Metro) system at Zeytinburnu and Aksaray stations.
The short underground funicular tram is a crucial link in Istanbul's transportation system. The main route is between Taksim and Kabatas (Kabatas is a sea terminal for boats to the Asian side). Travel takes only three minutes. The funicular also provides access to Beyoglu, and links the Zeytinburnu–Kabata? tram and the Kabata? ferry terminal to the Taksim–4 Levent metro.
Payment is by Akbil, Istanbulkart or token.
Public Transport for People with Disabilities
- New buses, metrobuses and trams are accessible for people using a wheelchair from the station platforms
- Dolmus is not accessible for people with disabilities
- All stations and trains on the metro line are accessible for people using a wheelchair. There are lifts and elevators for disabled passengers
Passengers can ask the staff in grey/black uniforms (security guards) for assistance; they can be found at the entrances to the station platforms.
Disabled Card (Özürlü Kart?)
A Health Report prepared by an official health council (Sa?l?k Kurulu) is necessary for this card to be issued. Reports received from abroad or from private hospitals are not accepted. People who have a disability rating equal to or above 40 percent are eligible for this card.
The fee is TL 10, and the card provides free travel on public transport. It is possible to apply online.
Travelling with Animals
Pets are only allowed in the section reserved for luggage on buses. They are not allowed on the passenger seats or in the overhead compartment. There are many private cargo carrier companies specialising in transporting pets on longer journeys by bus or coach.
Pets are generally not allowed on other forms of public transport in Istanbul, it is advisable to check before travelling.